BRANDON — If you were looking for optimism regarding a potential end to the NHL lockout, Ryan Malone on Wednesday was not your man.
"It doesn't look good," the Lightning left wing said after 14 Tampa Bay players skated at the Ice Sports Forum. "Most of the guys, we're in there talking, the way it sounds, we're prepared to be locked out the whole year."
The players association and league are scheduled to meet Friday, and as W Marty St. Louis said, "Whenever there's a meeting, there's always hope."
But Malone brought up the 2004-05 lockout that resulted in a lost season and player salaries cut 24 percent. "That's just the way we think (commissioner Gary Bettman) is operating, so we're all prepared for that," he said.
It hasn't helped that it has been 15 days since the last formal negotiation, and the league says the players need to come up with a new compromise proposal.
"They've said, 'We're not going to talk to you unless you make more concessions,' so it hasn't made much sense for us," said RW B.J. Crombeen, part of the union's negotiating committee. "We've said, 'We're here; we're ready. Let us know when you're ready to talk to us.' " Said Malone, "If we're sacrificing, then they should be sacrificing. It's about growing the game and not growing everyone's bank account."
NET MINDER: With G Anders Lindback not attending the past several informal workouts, Malone has volunteered to play in net. "He's pretty good, actually," Crombeen said. "It's scary. It might become another career."
"He'd make a good '80s goalie," C Steven Stamkos said of Malone's structured, stand-up style.
Malone, who played goalie "a few odd times" growing up, said he is not worried about injury, "knock on wood. … Usually I stand in front of the net with less padding on. And I can keep my eyes open the whole time with the mask on." Even so, he said, "You realize you should shoot from anywhere because a goalie, it's hard to move around."
NEW DUDS: The union provided players with NHLPA jerseys, a much better looking and less contentious option than the team jerseys players wore inside out to show lockout unity.
misc.: Stamkos and St. Louis will wait another few weeks to decide about playing in Europe. … Crombeen and his wife, Janet, on Sept. 19 had their second child, and second boy, Boden Michael, 8 pounds, 8 ounces.